Fair lovers, you are fortunately met

Baize, Nowani, Alex and Will discuss some loves of the theater and Shakespeare’s Plays

BaizePETRA+VON+KANT-117.jpg

What sound or noise do you love?

ALEX -– Summer crickets.

BAIZE -What sound or noise do you love? My sister’s laugh.  
What sound or noise do you hate?

ALEX -– Mosquitos.

WILL – My cat flipping over her water bowl. I don’t know what she wants from us.

Fun fact about yourself

ALEX -– I’m a bit embarrassed that the answers to my first two questions are both bugs.

What is your favorite Shakespeare quote or section of text from any of his plays and why?

NOWANI –

“The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness”.

It’s the same friar speech in Romeo and Juliet that starts with:

“these violent delights have violent ends” 

which is much more quotable, but 

19054894_1407453119321152_1160591263308907064_odidn’t strike my fancy in the same way. I read the line in high school and 

it jumped out to me as magic poetry and I’ve loved it ever since.

BAIZE – 

“ O, not like mine, For mine’s beyond beyond ”

I love the breakdown of formal poetic language in this moment as Imogen attempts to explain her longing for Posthumus…nothing flowery or embellished, but the simple repetition of the word is its own kind of poetry all the same.

ALEX – Benedick and Beatrice’s church scene in Much Ado. When we were kids, my sister forced me to take a breather from Star Wars and watch Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado. I’ve since found that play, and particularly that scene in its many versions, endlessly charming.

Who is your favorite character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and why?

BAIZE – The mechanicals for their dedication and sweetness.

Will2WILL –  Francis Flute. He’s so exasperated and exhausted by all of this. He wanted to play a normal part in a normal play and he’s getting the exact opposite of that. My favorite line of the play comes after Quince says that no man but Bottom could play Pyramus and Flute replies, “No, he hath simply the best wit of any handicraft man in Athens”. Bottom’s just the best actor from their office. It’s such a real thing to say and Flute just wants to go home.

NOWANI – Puck- its such a zany character and you can always see how much fun the actor is having with the part.

What are you most looking forward to about this production in particular?

AlexHarold Clurman Lab HOT L BALTIMORE Paul

BAIZE – Performing outside in my home borough of Brooklyn.

NOWANI – I’m excited to see how the production changes from being in the park to going indoors.

Favorite Shakespeare performance 

ALEX – Celine Purcell’s turn as Nick Bottom will forever echo in Shakespeare Camp history. At the tender age of 8, my sister’s rendering of Pyramus’ suicide was virtually a three act play.

WILL – Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night.

 Have you ever worked on this play before?

Will1

WILL –Yes! When I was 13 or 14, I was cast in a local professional production of Midsummer as Philostrate. I would come in with Theseus in the first scene, hang out backstage listening to the play, I had my scene with Theseus and then I would watch the Pyramus and Thisbe performance from the wings. It was amazing. 

NOWANI – I have! I played Hippolyta, mostly I sat in a wedding dress while my ankles got attacked by mosquitoes. I look excellent in white and react poorly to mosquitoes, so it’s what I remember most.

BAIZE –  I’ve worked on this play twice before….and both times I’ve played Helena!

For more information on Baize Buzan

For more information on Nowani Rattray

For more information on Will Sarratt 

For more information on Alex Purcell

 

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Uneasy Made Easy: A Historical Prequel to Shakespeare’s HENRY IV

Matthew S. Sciarappa

Matthew deep in study

by Matthew S. Sciarappa

It’s no wonder why we hear King Henry conclude, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” in Act III, scene 1 of Henry IV part 2. Handling the monumental pressures of both running a nation and ensuring a lineage doesn’t exactly sound like pie. In Smith Street Stage’s upcoming production of Henry IV we will see King Henry grappling with his uneasiness and sporting that very heavy crown.

However, he was not the first man taxed with such a tremendous task. England has a rich and intricate history leading up to Henry IV that (let’s face it) can make us feel “uneasy” ourselves in figuring it out.

But let’s say that you’re auditioning for Henry IV sometime soon; or you’re at an intellectual cocktail party with friends; or you’re an impressive Shakespeare buff, but you don’t quite know what happens before the time of this play, when suddenly you’re asked, “How did Henry IV get to be Henry IV?”

Well, ladies and gentlemen, to help you answer this question I’ve compiled a brief history highlighting the key players and events that you should know.

1308-1378

  • Edward II

Edward II began his rule in 1308. No one in England at the time really seemed to like him, as he played favorites with particular nobles in court and continuously failed in war against Scotland.

Eventually, Edward II’s wife, Isabella of France, teamed up with her lover, Roger Mortimer, and launched a revolt against her husband. In said revolt, Edward II’s own forces abandoned him. Really, he was not a popular guy.

Edward II relinquished his crown to his fourteen-year-old son, Edward III, in 1327 and later was probably murdered—we don’t know that for a fact, but the dude rather quickly wound up dead.

  • Edward III

Edward III was only a bit more popular than his dad, but he was pretty stoked to be the new king. So much so, that at age seventeen he decided to throw a coup against Roger Mortimer (previously mentioned) who was ruling de facto at the time.

Edward III continued the fight against Scotland, which was a major struggle, but he managed to gain a decent victory in the Battle of Halidon Hill.

Edward III soon had the brilliant idea that since his mommy Isabella was French, he could be the king of both France and England. France obviously said “heck no” (I may be paraphrasing) and this whole ordeal led to a little quarrel between the nations known as The Hundred Years’ War…smooth move Eddie…

Edward III had four sons, and we only really care about three of them because the last one was eventually beheaded for treason. The three sons we care about are as follows: Edward the Black Prince, Lionel Duke of Clarence, and John of Gaunt the Duke of Lancaster.

FUN FACT: the middle son, Lionel, will eventually produce a lineage leading to Richard III, but that’s a whole other story/Shakespeare play we can save for another time. We’re going to ignore Lionel right now. Nothing personal.

  • Edward the Black Prince

Edward III’s eldest son, Edward the Black Prince, did not get to be king. After living a life of impressive military success, he took ill. His stubborn father, our Edward III, outlived him. When Edward III eventually died (illness as well in 1377) the crown was passed to his ten-year-old grandson, Richard II. Remember Richard II. We’ll come back to him in a moment.

  • John of Gaunt

Edward III’s other son, John of Gaunt, had some unpopularity problems just like his dad (are we noticing a theme here?). John of Gaunt’s unpopularity stemmed from his lack of familial grounding. England wasn’t sold on his parentage; there were rumors at the time that he was a mere butcher’s son. This was in part because Edward III was not actually present for his birth.

However, John of Gaunt was a decently successful military commander, and for a while was essentially running England’s government. This was due to Edward III’s/Edward the Black Prince’s illnesses and deaths. John of Gaunt travelled to different countries, crusaded against enemies, and even buddied up with famous writer Geoffrey Chaucer.

John of Gaunt had two wives in his lifetime, Blanche of Lancaster and Catherine Swynford.

FUN FACT: Catherine Swynford came later, and also had something to do with the lineage leading up to Richard III, but we’ll again forgo traveling down that path.

  • Blanche of Lancaster

There isn’t much recorded history about Blanche of Lancaster, but she and John of Gaunt seemed to have gotten along rather well. By all accounts, she was attractive, wealthy, and faithful to her husband. She and John of Gaunt had seven children, three of which survived infancy, and one of which was Henry of Bollingbroke (I repeat, HENRY of Bollingbroke… SPOILERS: He becomes our King HENRY IV).

OKAY! Let’s Check in

So here’s where we are now: it’s 1378, all the previously mentioned Edwards are dead, John of Gaunt is still alive/running England, ten-year-old Richard II (remember him?) is presently king, and ten-year-old Henry of Bollingbroke is his cousin.

1378-1400

  • Richard II

Richard II, though starting out at age ten, didn’t do half bad as a king. He successfully suppressed the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381 with help from advisors, and in 1389 he claimed full control of his position as king, leading to a relatively peaceful eight years in England.

  • Thomas de Mowbray

One day in 1398, some gossipy duke we don’t like named Thomas de Mowbray decided that Richard II’s cousin, Henry of Bollingbroke, said something treasonous against the kingdom. Henry of Bollingbroke denied this, and suddenly their dispute became a big deal.

Neither Thomas de Mowbray nor Henry of Bollingbroke would surrender in their battle of hearsay, so Richard II decided that the two dukes should duke it out in a duel. On the day of said duel, Richard II was feeling temperamental, and instead of letting one of these men kill the other, he chose to banish Henry of Bollingbroke for a time, and exile Thomas de Mowbray for life.

  • Henry of Bollingbroke

Henry of Bollingbroke’s father, John of Gaunt, passed away one year after the banishment. Richard II got a little greedy and decided that since Henry of Bollingbroke was presently banished, he was not entitled to his inheritance.

Henry of Bollingbroke was not very happy about this, so in 1399, while Richard II was away in Ireland, he chose to invade England to reclaim his inheritance. He had such a large following, however, that it soon became clear: Henry of Bollingbroke could overthrow Richard II and become king of England. So obviously he did, and in the same year he crowned himself our very own King Henry IV.

And thus, ladies and gentlemen, we begin at Shakespeare’s Henry IV part one. I hope you’ve enjoyed this whirlwind history lesson!

Matthew S. Sciarappa

Sometimes all this history can be overwhelming.

–Matthew Sciarappa, SSS Assistant

Henry IV Cast Announcement: One Grateful Director

Joby Earle announces the cast of Henry IV for Smith Street Stage

Joby

A few weeks ago we held callbacks for our upcoming production of Henry 4. It was my first time casting and I can say the view from the other side of the table is a humbling one as you get to witness artist after artist come and wrestle with this impossible task that is the audition process. It is a brave, strange, act, this. On the plane home I felt deeply grateful and confused as to how anyone makes a choice as to whom they are eventually going to go with. I had a few hunches, mostly based on what I perceived to be a shared pleasure in working together, or actors who came in and seemed not afraid to try things at risk of failure.

The rubric I finally decided upon was that of my idea of what it must be like to put a sports team together. Match people’s strengths, get a variety of training, go with those whose collaborative spirit seem to match their talent and facility.

All of this is attempted to be gauged in a total of spending no more than 30 minutes with someone over the course of auditions and callbacks. It’s a harrowing task for both those who are casting and those who are auditioning.

And yet, one by one, actors came in practicing patience, ease, grace, bravery. It was a sight to behold, and I hope more get to experience it.

To all who came in: thank you for your work. For whatever it’s worth, it was a gift to us sitting in that room.

All my best,

Joby Earle

CAST LIST

Jonathan Hopkins                    Falstaff

Hannah Sloat                           Prince Hal

Jane May                                 King Henry, Hostess Quickly

Michael Hanson                       Hotspur, Pistol

Lauren Pennline                       Poins, Westmorland

Beth Ann Hopkins                   Bardoph, Douglas, Warwick

Jonathan Minton                      Worcester, Chief Justice

Sam Reiff-Pasarew                  John, Gadshill, Shallow, Doll